Moving your web content past vanity metrics

As digital marketers, we’ve built a culture of pageviews, click-through-rates, and high-level engagement metrics. These metrics can be helpful to understand your brand’s growth, but for driving pipeline they are vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are the worst.

Look at these metrics! What do they even mean?

Look at these metrics! What do they even mean?

In B2B marketing, vanity metrics treat all engagements as equal. Any marketer would be thrilled with a 20% increase in web traffic. A focused B2B marketer would rather have the same traffic, but a better audience — yielding a 1% increase in conversion rates.

Measuring how web content influences our sales process seems obvious, but for the most part that’s not how marketing teams measure their website. With 60% of the buyer journey happening before a prospect engages with Sales, to grow our businesses, we need to change how we evaluate web content performance.

How do your buyers use your website?

We ran analysis with two of our customers: one sells a self-service SaaS platform; the other sells an enterprise software product with a complex deployment process.

The way prospects used each of their websites was completely different — yet both companies were only measuring their sites for traffic growth. Below are some questions we asked to find out where they should focus their web content efforts.

Which stage is your content for?

Guiding your buyer through stage-appropriate content helps educate your buyer, qualifies prospects, and keeps your funnel clean and performant. By evaluating what content buyers look at during each stage of your funnel, you can map early, mid, and late-stage content paths.

Early, mid, and late-stage content should be written for different audiences. If your content is too high-level for someone in the evaluation process, they will be frustrated. The same is true for an early-stage prospect only finding highly technical content before they even know what you do!

To figure this out, we mapped the date each website visit happened to the specific opportunity stage the buyer was in. We did this for each contact to create aggregate insights across all opportunities.

Are all buyers reading the same thing?

The end result was a table of popular pages by opportunity stage, and a graph of when people visit website. This analysis is hugely informative for two reasons:

  1. You can quickly identify buying signals from your prospects
  2. You can focus your web content on the questions your buyer is trying to answer for each stage of your funnel

With our self-serve SaaS customer, they didn’t have one specific page trending. They found each funnel stage had dozens of popular pages, each page only had a handful of visits. They learned, with data, that 40% of prospects read their blog before engaging with Sales. However, in their trial phase, every single opportunity visited the support site. Not only does this validate their content strategy, but they can use these insights to inform the Sales process by testing a Sales support role.

For our enterprise customer, they found a huge trend in the middle of their funnel. With a large buying team, they’re adding many new contacts as the opportunity progresses. They found webinar landing pages and recordings are the most popular pages for mid-stage contacts. They inferred that educating buyers is crucial at this stage of pipeline, enabling them to revise their content strategy to focus on educating new contacts joining a buying process.

What is the data not saying?

Looking at the content your buyers interact with is biased towards the content you already have. Your buyer is a following a breadcrumb trail you left for them to follow. Where they veer off the breadcrumb trail, such as not moving to the next stage of the funnel or bouncing from your site, are indicative of missing content.

But that’s not to say your web content matters at every stage of your buying process You might have really high engagement on your website in your lead generation process, but low during the buying process itself. Is this good or bad? It depends.

If you have particularly weak content performance in a specific stage, check pipeline conversion rates for that stage. Are the deals moving through this funnel stage at similar rates to other stages? Are they stuck here for a while?

  • If the conversion rates are comparable to other stages, you probably don’t need to worry — this is part of the buying process and your buyer probably doesn’t need web content in this stage.
  • If your conversion rates are low, you may want to work with your Sales team to create new stage-specific messaging on your website. Talk to prospects who are stuck in this stage and ask what resources would help them.

This is great, but my time-on-page is killer.

I’d like you to look at your pricing page. Typically pricing pages are designed for first-time visitors. Ask yourself, how many people looking at the pricing page are in your sales process? What stage of your sales process are they in? Do they already have pricing from your sales team? Are people in your pipeline spending time on this page, or bouncing quickly? If they visit multiple pages, where do they go next?

These insights matter much more than “all the completely random people who found us on Google or accidentally clicked an ad spent an extra 22 seconds on our pricing page this week. We’re killing it!”


If this post has you wondering how to answer these questions — fret not. FunnelCake is designed to help B2B marketers use your sales performance data to make data-driven decisions.

We just released a website report that answers all of these questions. I’d love to show it to you.